Cheney's yellowcake diversion.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
July 24 2003 7:14 PM

Cheney Wraps His Glutes in the Flag

It's not unpatriotic to wonder why the president lied.

(Continued from Page 1)

[G]iven the October 5 and 6 CIA memorandum, and my telephone conversation with the DCI Tenet at roughly the some time, I should have recalled at the time of the State of the Union speech that there was controversy associated with the uranium issue. … The President and the National Security Advisor look to me to ensure that the substantive statements in those speeches are the ones in which the President can have confidence. And it is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility. …

Hadley added that "Condi wants it clearly understood that she feels a personal responsibility for not recognizing the potential problem presented by those 16 words," but in the context of his remarks it was clear this was merely a gracious gesture. (She was traveling, Bartlett told reporters, and therefore unavailable to elaborate.)

The White House clearly hoped that Hadley's generous mea culpa closed the book on Yellowcakegate. Maybe, along with Cheney's AEI speech, it will. But Hadley's account leaves a dangling thread. Can you spot it? Tenet's Oct. 6 memo elaborating on why it was dumb, in the Cincinnati speech, to make reference to Saddam's purported yellowcake safari, came, Hadley says, after Hadley had already agreed to take the reference out. (Hadley's exact words: "[B]y this time, by draft eight, the reference to Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium has already been deleted from the speech, as DCI Tenet asked me to do in his telephone request.") Tenet is a very busy man—too busy, we now know, to bother vetting the president's State of the Union address himself, a lapse that required him to render an elaborate and somewhat embarrassing apology. Yet Tenet was not too busy in October to filibuster Hadley by memo on the yellowcake howler after Hadley had removed the yellowcake howler from the speech. Why wouldn't Tenet let go of Hadley's lapel?

Because, Chatterbox submits, Tenet knew (or perhaps just guessed) that someone else would try to overrule Hadley and put the yellowcake howler back in. Was that someone else Cheney or Libby?

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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